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How to Cook Basmati Rice Recipe

How to Cook Basmati Rice

04.15.10 by Jackie

Ah, basmati rice. I don't think there is a food that better represents the similarities and differences of Indian Subcontinent and East Asian cultures. Rice is the staple starch in both of these Asian regions, but the preparation couldn't be more different. In the Far East, sticky jasmine rice is typically prepared with every meal. Chopsticks are the utensil of choice, which helps explain the popularity of rice that can stay clumped together on the journey from the bowl to the mouth.

By contrast, the quality of cooked basmati rice is judged primarily by how separate the grains remain. Traditionally, people of the subcontinent eat with their hands, and the various dals and kormas do a great job of creating cohesion.

Preparing basmati rice at home is not nearly as challenging as it may seem, but as is the case with many simple dishes, precision and care are required. Like pasta, if it's cooked past "al dente", basmati rice will become mushy.

I didn't have much experience with basmati rice until I got married. After more than five years, I have not only learned how to make it, I have come to love it. In our home, we make both sticky Asian jasmine rice and Indian basmati rice everyday to satisfy the different palates. We typically eat it with dal, but the girls love to have basmati rice with a little butter and sumac. Sumac is a common Middle Eastern spice and has a deep reddish, purple color. You can see it sprinkled over the rice in the photos.

If you don't have well cooked basmati rice on a regular basis, you don't know what you're missing. I know that for a long time I didn't!


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Soybean Sprouts with Black Bean Sauce Recipe

Stir fried soybean sprouts make a healthy, yet tasty side dish if you're planning a quick and easy Asian meal. The bean sprouts are seasoned with black bean sauce and soy sauce. Baby spinach is added for a nice contrast in color.

Soybean sprouts are a lot harder to get than regular mung bean sprouts. The sprouts are much larger and have a yellow color, whereas mung bean sprouts are green. I buy mine at a local Korean store. It's definitely worth the effort to find them though, because soybean sprouts give the dish an extra dimension of flavor.


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Summer Orzo Pasta Salad Recipe

Summer Orzo Pasta Salad

04.07.10 by Jackie

Orzo pasta salad is a very quick and easy dish to prepare. You can vary the ingredients in the sauce, but the basics are the same: you need the orzo pasta, some vegetables and a sauce. I made a roasted red bell pepper paste, added some green beans for color, lentils for protein and finished the dish with enoki mushrooms and cashew nuts for texture.

If you're looking for a quick and easy recipe for a picnic, this dish is an excellent choice. It's a light dish that pairs well with almost any kind of protein (hamburgers, fish, etc.). It's also very flexible; as spring turns into summer, you can incorporate many different seasonal vegetables into the recipe. Our extended family has a lot of picnics and potlucks this time of year, and I often prepare some variation of an orzo pasta salad. It's great for both the vegetarians and non-vegetarians in our house.


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Quinoa with Vodka Tomato Sauce Recipe

Quinoa with Vodka Tomato Sauce

03.28.10 by Jackie

I flavored this quinoa [pronounced keen:'wah] dish with homemade vodka cream tomato sauce, roasted bell peppers and parsley for color. I also added lightly toasted pine nuts for a nutty taste and a poblano pepper to give it a kick.

Quinoa is a great alternative to pasta, potatoes or rice.  One of the advantages is that quinoa is gluten-free. If you have someone in your house who is allergic to gluten, quinoa is the perfect option. It has a nutty flavor and is packed with protein and amino acids. The preparation is so easy that you will be making this dish over and over again.

If you're looking for other ways to prepare quinoa, check out my eggplant vegetarian caviar recipe.


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Pesto Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes Recipe

You may not believe it, but buttermilk mashed potatoes are just as fluffy as regular mashed potatoes made with heavy cream. The only difference is a pleasant tangy taste that the buttermilk imparts to the potatoes. To enhance the flavor of the mashed potatoes, I added some homemade Pecorino basil pesto. There is nothing subtle about this dish; it is absolutely bursting with color and flavor.

I was inspired to make this dish during our Christmas trip to Las Vegas. We went to our favorite eatery, "The Buffet at Bellagio". They served pesto mashed potatoes, but without buttermilk. It was so good I had to replicate it but of course, I wanted to add my own twist. I recently made a large batch of Pecorino basil pesto, so I thought it would be a good time to try my hand at the dish. I hope you like it!


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